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Reasons Why I Might Never Survive as My Own Badass Female Protagonist by Kenzie Jennings

Kenzie Jennings is an amazing author whose dark fiction has been published at Death's Head Press. Such works include the Splatterpunk Award nominated book, Reception and one of the newest additions to the Splatter Western series, Red Station. I recently had the pleasure of consuming Jennings visceral western tale of the lady in red, Clyde Northway, and her brutally violent survival story at a station home in Kansas. I am astounded by the author's ability to craft one of the most unforgiving, resilient, and deadly female protagonists I have ever read in horror. As quickly as I could muster my thoughts, I asked Jennings, how? How did you craft such a badass female character for this Splattertastic western horror!? Here's what she had to say


Reasons Why I Might Never Survive as My Own Badass Female Protagonist

Red Station, my entry in Death’s Head Press’ popular Splatter Western series, has been in playback mode in my head for the past several months since its release in November of last year. Its strange and complicated heroine, Clyde Northway, has set up camp in my psyche, having endured a violently hellish night at a station home on the Kansas plains. She’s righteously furious at me for what I’d put her through, but here’s the thing…
…I knew the woman could handle herself. She’d packed…wisely…for her trip to Idlecreek, a town run by her madman of a fiancé. Essentially, Clyde’s a woman—like many I know—who comes prepared for pretty much anything.
Frankly, Clyde’s fairly relatable to me and to other women who’ve even briefly met her (with some exceptions, perhaps), even though I would probably never be able to endure what she’s been through, especially with the sort of grace and dignity that’s been carefully cultivated in her. She both impresses me…and scares the ever-loving shit out of me. There are several traits she has that I either take for granted or sorely lack, and as a result, I could never fathom surviving what she’s more than ready for…
  1. She’s as observant as a badass heroine ought to be. I’m not referring to the calculating, displaced observational skills her male contemporaries display (I’m looking at you, Sherlock). Clyde doesn’t just contemplate each physical move she’ll have to make when things spiral out of control, she’s observant of her company’s humanity, or lack thereof, as well, and that’s an essential trait. My own observation skills have been lacking as of late, and I know that sort of thing would likely kill me and anyone I’d been attempting to protect.
  1. She doesn’t waste her passion or empathy. Clyde doesn’t have time to be emotionally invested in people who drag her down with them. Don’t misunderstand me here. That doesn’t mean she’s cold-hearted. However, so many female protagonists get caught in the trap-and-trope of falling deeply in love with their… complications. I confess that, much like those familiar heroines, I let myself be consumed by relationships that probably would’ve killed my own sense of individuality and drive. Clyde though understands that when the going gets tough, such frivolous emotional entanglements truly do tend to “entangle.” They become as much as of an obstacle as the villains do. 
  1. She adheres to the belief that gentility does not equate to weakness. In fact, gentility can be weaponized. When creating Clyde, I saw her as a woman with the ability to adapt to difficult circumstances when need be. She has a single obligation to fulfill, and that obligation requires her to present herself, more or less, as the lady of the house. That being said, she also understands that her primary responsibility is to pacify…and then, if need be, to rectify. That requires a certain degree of cunning and resourcefulness, and what better way to use her elegance and composure to hide what she’s really capable of? 
  1. Speaking of weaponizing and resourcefulness, she can use whatever weapons are handy in the moment, but she’s still always prepared no matter what. Resourcefulness is a solid trait of a badass protagonist. When I pictured Clyde, I had this crazy image that stuck with me: This lady in gorgeous, vibrant couture, pinwheeling an arm back around that had an Indian bagh nakh katar-like weapon wrapped around it, those blades getting driven right into a villain’s mug. I loved the thought of giving her a covert arsenal, and she struck me as the kind of badass who’d have one actually on her person wherever she went. 
  1. She doesn’t have to tell you a goddamned thing. Yet another reason why I wouldn’t survive as a badass protagonist is that I’d give everything about myself away. I’m pretty much a blabbermouth (It could be a writer thing, I don’t know). There’s something to be said, however, about a lady with secrets, a woman of mystery. She doesn’t mind revealing just enough to arouse curiosity, but she knows perfectly well that trust is to be earned, and no one out there in wild country is remotely trustworthy. 
In retrospect, fine. I may never cut it as a badass protagonist, and at this point in my life, I can accept that. I’d much rather cat nap on a lazy afternoon than have to deal with any sorts of monsters and mayhem. Instead, I leave it all to the badass women I create, like Clyde, who, in the end, would not only be able to survive the night in a house of psychopaths, she’d also be able to handle herself in the most terrifying situation of all…
Hostessing dinner parties for the hoity beau monde.



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